I've tried to search in google and found nothing

Are these 2 equal:

  • tinha estado
  • estivera

? Or is there any difference between them?


1 Answer 1


Those two forms are almost always equivalent and their English correspondent would be "had been". The synthetic form estiverapretérito mais-que-perfeito — is less common, more formal and considered old-fashioned by some.

"Ao chegar, percebi que já estivera naquele lugar." (in English, "Upon arrival, I noticed I had already been to that place.") has the same meaning if we change estivera for tinha estado or even havia estado (seen perhaps as less formal than estivera and more than tinha estado).

There are cases in which estivera cannot be substituted for tinha estado because the sentence has a hypothetical connotation and the subjunctive mode would be used. For example, in the sentence "Estivera presente o professor, ele não teria dito aquilo." (in English, "Had the teacher been present, he would not have said that."), at least in Brazilian portuguese, one would not change estivera for tinha estado but one could change it for tivesse estado (and even add the conjunction se and set the order to SV to make it more typical, "se o professor tivesse estado presente").

  • In Portugal, there is a sharp difference in usage between the spoken and the written language. It almost never occurs in spontaneous speech (in fact I'd wager it's more commonly used in place of the imperfect subjunctive, though even then mostly limited to sentences starting with "não fora"). On the other hand, in many written texts it is the most common way to express the pluperfect, certainly more than with "haver", which seems more popular in Brazil.
    – Artefacto
    Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 23:37
  • @Artefacto apart from Brazil, there're also Alngola and Mozambique, at least.
    – Nondi
    Commented Jul 28, 2023 at 21:57
  • @Artefacto Interesting that it is more common than the compound tense with 'haver'. In spoken Brazilian Portuguese, almost no one uses the synthetic pluperfect (I confess to being one who uses it) and generally one uses the compound form with the auxiliary 'ter'. In written speech, the form with 'haver' is very present however and the synthetic pluperfect is not unusual, for example, it is used throughout the Brazilian translation of the Harry Potter books.
    – Tera
    Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 13:26
  • @Nondi It wouldn't know how such tenses are used in Angola, Mozambique and other lusophone countries. It would be nice to hear from people from other Portuguese-speaking countries though.
    – Tera
    Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 13:29

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